What's Google Analytics 4 (GA4) & How to Make the Transition | GlowingSolar.Systems

On October 14, Google announced that they will be releasing a new and more intelligent Google Analytics: Google Analytics 4.

At first glance, the recording of events in Google Analytics 4 (GA4) looooks fairly straightforward. Events are after all, the only thing you can collect in GA4. It's quick to get weighed down to repetitive parallels... Though I am firmly opposed to the notion that GA4 must mimic resemble #OldSkool Analytics, I can recommend approaching Google Analytics 4 with an open mind (It may not be time to depend on its reporting but it’s the... future?).



The current Google Analytics dates back to November 14, 2005. Since then, 15 years have passed and there have been major shifts in the digital world and consumer behaviors. It was time for Google to evolve and help businesses better understand their clients and get better ROI from their marketing efforts.

Google built the new Google Analytics 4 on the foundation of the App + Web property that has been introduced in the beta last year. It has machine learning at its core and makes privacy a priority to reflect the new rules and regulations. Google is creating the next generation of analytics and says this new version will give businesses the essential insights they need to better understand customers across devices and platforms, and be ready for the future.

What are the main updates on Google Analytics 4?

1. Changed account structure & data streams

You will no longer have many properties per Google Analytics account, where each property used to represent either a website or a mobile device. Now, there is a Google Analytics 4 property that represents both a website and a mobile app. Also, GA4 provides only one reporting view that contains data from one or more data streams.



So what’s a data stream you may ask? A data stream is a data source. You can have a data stream for your website and a data stream for your mobile app all under the same GA4 property. However, you can only connect one web data stream and two mobile app data streams (iOS app and Android app).

GlowingSolar.Systems GA4 Data Stream (a platform formerly known by App+Web)
GlowingSolar.Systems GA4 Data Stream (a platform formerly known by App+Web)

2. Event-based data model

The old Google Universal Analytics was based on the idea that people have ‘sessions’ and ‘page views’. Now Google Analytics 4 becomes user-centric by changing its old session-based model to a flexible event-based data model. Marketers can track a diverse range of user interactions to better understand how people engage with your business across your platforms. For example, you can measure:

– Clicks and pageviews on your website

– Installs and opens on your app

– User engagement and conversions on either platform

There are many welcomed additions and though they will take getting used-to for many- the machine learning benefits alone will make it worth it for those seeking leverage Automated Audiences for E-commerce targeting.
There are many welcomed additions and though they will take getting used-to for many- the machine learning benefits alone will make it worth it for those seeking leverage Automated Audiences for E-commerce targeting.

The event-based data model consistently measures these interactions across devices and platforms and provides you with even richer insights from your data. It’s also possible to create your own custom events.

3. Full cross-device and cross-platform reporting

GA4 new analytics approach makes it easier for marketers to understand the combined impact of their marketing efforts. Not only is it possible to measure web and app interactions together, but also across the network. For example, you can see conversions from YouTube video views alongside conversions from Google and non-Google paid channels, and organic channels like Google Search, social, and email. A marketer’s dream come true!

Besides, user tracking is even more precise. Google now identifies users with three different methods: Device-ID, User ID, and Google signals.

4. No more channel grouping

The new GA4 tossed away the default channel groupings to focus more on source and medium which are the default channel groupings. Marketers will have to adapt to this change by reviewing how they can configure their UTM trackings.

5. New Reporting & Navigation

There’s a big improvement in Google Analytics 4’s navigation structure which is very different with much more advanced reporting, analysis, and customization tools.  The analysis tool is now available for everyone, while it was previously exclusive to GA360 users. Thanks to this, you can drill even deeper into your data and use a variety of techniques like funnel analysis, path analysis, and exploration to uncover insights. There’s also a good set of report templates that marketers can use to analyze user behavior.

6. Machine learning for improved insights and predictions

Google is using its advanced machine learning models to alert marketers with significant trends in their data. For example, Google could tell you the potential revenue you could earn from a particular group of customers, calculate churn probability, or notify you of products seeing rising demand because of new customer needs. All these new predictive metrics will help businesses better understand why some customers are likely to spend more than others and to improve their overall results.

GlowingSolar.Systems_Google_Analytics_4_GA4_Predictive_Audience
A quick showcase of GA4’s ability to use real-time data to build predictive audiences. Note: As of early December 2020, eligible Predictive Audiences are now available for targeting within Google Ads.

Here’s how to make the transition to Google Analytics 4

If you’re new to analytics

You should get started with the latest Google Analytics 4 right away!

If you already use analytics for your website

You should set up a GA4 property alongside your existing Analytics properties. This will allow you to start collecting data and taking advantage of capabilities in the new property while keeping your current Analytics implementation intact.

If you already use analytics for your app

If you’re using Google Analytics for your app, the Google Firebase project you already use is now a GA4 property, so you don’t need to make any changes to your account.

In conclusion

Google is clear, Google Analytics 4 is the next generation of analytics. There’s no clear date on when Google Universal Analytics will phase-out, but Google Analytics  4 is now the default property type. So if you’re creating a new property in your account, by default, it will be a GA4 property. While you still have the option to create a Universal Analytics property, GA4 is where Google will be investing in future improvements. So you should start testing and playing around with the new version!


If you want to learn more about Google Analytics 4, visit Google’s skillshop on the subject. As always, I love hearing from y'all so please do not hesitate to continue the conversation in the comments below!